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The High Cost of Car Crashes

Car crashes obviously have a physical toll, but a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that car accidents also have a large economic toll on the U.S.  In fact, the study suggests that car accidents cost an estimated $871 billion per year in economic loss as well as societal harm.  The total includes $277 billion in economic costs and $594 billion in costs related to life-long injuries, loss of life, and chronic pain.  Because of the steep costs, the NHTSA is urging for continued research to develop safety measures to decrease the likelihood of car accidents.

Study Looked at Car and Truck Crashes in 2010

The recent study looked at car and truck crashes that occurred in 2010.  A total of 32,999 people were were killed; an estimated 3.9 million were injured; and 24 million vehicles were damaged.  The number of deaths and injuries was similar to recent years, but the Administration only produces this type of study about once every decade.  Overall, the economic cost of accidents in 2010 accounted for about 2% of the nation’s total gross domestic product in 2010.

The Most Common Causes for Car Accidents

The NHTSA study cited three significant and primary causes for tragic car accidents.  Those factors include: 1) speeding; 2) drunk driving and 3) distracted driving.  I’ve written at length about the dangers of distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, but drunk driving and speeding are also obvious and easily preventable sources of car accidents.  For example, the study found that speeding accounted for 21% of the total economic loss to the U.S. and $210 billion to societal loss.  Similarly, drunk driving accounted for 18% of the total economic loss and 23% of societal harm.  Finally, distracted driving was accountable for 17% of the total economic loss and 15% of societal harm.

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